Electronics plays a growing role in traditional CAD design workflows.
Electronics is becoming a check-off capability for companies comparing CAD capabilities. Among cloud CAD competitors, most notably Autodesk and PTC (after its acquisition of OnShape), electronics design is needed to fill out the capabilities of online CAD in comparison to its older, more earth-bound competitors. Onshape added electrical design in 2018. SolidWorks teamed with Altium to offer a collaborative tool to marry ECAD with MCAD.
Autodesk introduced its Eagle PCB design tool in 2016 with the acquisition of CadSoft in 2016. In fact, 2016 saw a wave of traditional CAD and ECAD integrations and mechatronics, the combination of electronics with mechanical design has become much more accessible to a big swath of designers.
At Autodesk University, the company announced that electrical design is coming to Fusion 360 and now it’s here. Autodesk is building on Eagle to create a cloud-based PCB design tool to allow designers to integrate the process of MCAD design and electronics design for mechatronics work. The new tools include a production workflow for building PCBs as well. If you’re looking for a quick overview, the company released a video outlining the capabilities of the new PCB design features in Fusion 360.
Autodesk gives a fast overview of the new electronics design feature in Fusion 360.
Siemens, PTC, and Dassault, all have their own electronics tools to some degree.
The integration of electronics design into MCAD workflows has been inevitable and at this point, all the major MCAD design companies have some kind of ability to design a PCB board within a product design.
For more information on Autodesk’s work, more information is available here on their website.
What do we think?
DIY has become the order of the day and has moved to the professional sphere. Just as “administrative assistants,” which is what secretaries turned into when men started taking the job, have almost completely disappeared leaving us all free to make our own phone calls and appointments; designers are taking on more responsibilities. Okay, so product designers might not design the actual PCB in a mobile phone or the brain of their next robot, but understanding the design enables them to understand how to design the product around the PCB, and one of the most important features for mechatronics applications is the opening up of the lines of communication between ECAD and MCAD, so there’s more direct collaboration.
For simple products, designers can often design the electronics and to judge from the response to Autodesk’s announcement, they increasingly are.